Antiepileptic treatment in pregnant women: Morphological and behavioural effects

Torbjörn Tomson, Dina Battino

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


It is well established that children exposed to antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) in utero have an increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes including foetal growth retardation, major congenital malformations and impaired postnatal cognitive development. However, due to the significant maternal and foetal risks associated with uncontrolled epileptic seizures, AED treatment is generally maintained during pregnancy in the majority of women with active epilepsy. The prevalence of major malformations in children exposed to AEDs has ranged from 4 to 10%, 2-4 times higher than in the general population. More recent studies suggest a smaller increase in malformation rates. Malformation rates have consistently been higher in association with exposure to valproate than with carbamazepine and lamotrigine. Some prospective cohort studies also indicate reduced cognitive outcome in children exposed to valproate compared to carbamazepine and possibly lamotrigine. Information on pregnancy outcomes with newer generation AEDs other than lamotrigine are still insufficient.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Experimental Pharmacology
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Publication series

NameHandbook of Experimental Pharmacology
ISSN (Print)01712004
ISSN (Electronic)18650325


  • Antiepileptic drugs
  • Congenital malformations
  • Epilepsy
  • Pregnancy
  • Teratogenicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)
  • Biochemistry


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